In the past, driving an alternative fueled vehicle (AFV) cars and trucks powered by natural gas, propane, ethanol, methanol, electricity, or bio-dieselwas usually more of a lifestyle statement than an economic decision. But in an era of ever-rising gasoline prices, many businesses may begin to see AFVs as a way to gain competitive advantage. Municipalities and school boards alike may also see benefits in reduced fuel costs for police cruisers, school buses, and other publicly funded fleets.

Fleet managers in business and government will have a chance to learn more about beating the high price of gasoline at AFV Bowl 2000, the regions premier, free event providing the latest information on AFVs to be held on the Evansdale Campus of West Virginia University, Oct. 3 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

“Today, for example, the price of fuel for natural gas vehicles is 30 percent cheaper than the price of gasoline,”says Jeff Herholdt, manager of the West Virginia Development Office Energy Efficiency Program and co-chair of AFV Bowl 2000.”The state also offers tax credits that make AFVs no more expensive to purchase than regular gasoline vehicles,”he adds.

“In addition to the savings that can be achieved, some alternative fuels also offer superior safety features as well which would be particularly important for school buses carrying our children,”notes Al Ebron, executive director of the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium at WVU and event co-chair.

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, over half the fleets in West Virginia contain 20 vehicles or less. To a small business operating a small fleet, the barriers to owning and operating AFVs can seem insurmountable width=100%.

“Not so,”says Herholdt.”The state is a leader in natural gas refueling infrastructure. I-79 between Charleston and the northern West Virginia border has more public access refueling stations than any comparable stretch of highway in the United States. And with auto manufacturers making more alternate fuel models available and providing service at their dealerships, the barriers have really begun to fall.”

AFV Bowl 2000, a US DOE Advancing the AFV Choice Event sponsored by the West Virginia Clean State Program, will allow businesses to hear from, and interact with, various fuel providers including natural gas, propane, ethanol, and bio-diesel, and major auto manufacturers including Ford, GM, Daimler-Chrysler, and American Honda. Participants will also get an opportunity to actually calculate the savings they could realize through alternative fueled vehicles.

“This event will be extremely informative, and we hope participants will have fun too. Its hard to ignore football during the fall in Morgantown, so were planning for some exciting entertainment at our lunch/tailgate party,”says Ebron.”Besides getting to eat great food, participants will also get a chance to ride-n-drive some of the latest offerings from auto manufacturers and see exhibits featuring some of the cutting edge research going on at WVU . The public is invited.”

“Sponsorship from the U.S. EPA , U.S. DOE , the WVU National Research Center for Coal and Energy, American Honda, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, General Motors, and the Maryland Grain Producers allow us to offer this event free to the public,”says Ebron.